“Soul Food” Sweet Potato Soup ♥ with Chicken, Kale & Coconut Milk

Soul Food Sweet Potato Soup with Chicken, Kale & Coconut Milk  ♥ AVeggieVenture.com. Low Carb. WW3.
graphic button small size size 10 Today's heart- and belly-warming soup now that the sun sets early and the nights turn jacket-cool here in the Midwest. It's a simple, soothing soup, light somehow but at the same time hearty. It starts off with an intriguing Sweet Potato Broth, then builds flavors and textures with black beans and cooked chicken. Canadians? That turkey you've got leftover from Canadian Thanksgiving would work great too! Low Carb & Gluten Free. For Weight Watchers, just 3 PointsPlus. graphic button small size size 10

I don't as much read recipes as much as scan them, first the list of ingredients. Here, it was the sweet potato broth that first grabbed my attention. Instantly I wondered, Why is it that our soup broths are so, I dunno, watery? In contrast, this broth has both color and texture. That first time, it was a "fridge cleaning" night – a sprouted onion, gnarly celery, a wizened carrot, a dusty sweet potato. That Sweet Potato Broth? A miracle. Supper that night was a big hit, it hit the spot.

So far this year, I'm keeping a New Year's resolution to stock the freezer with meals for later: fewer "leftovers" and more "planned overs". And oh my but it's paying off. One night we worked in the garden until the light was long past. Inside, we had a definite case of the hungries! While the soup warmed up on the stove, I made a one-bowl, two-fork salad to share. We sat down to eat, grimy, dirt under our nails but pleased with our labors and warmed with good soup and good salad. What a way to feed a soul.

Day 180: Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Pear & Coconut ♥

Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Pear & Coconut ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, easy to make, rich and slightly sweet, beautiful color, a fall tradition. Vegan. WW points vary.
graphic button small size size 10 Today's fall tradition, a golden bowl of butternut squash soup, here slightly sweet (but not too fruity) with puréed pear, warmed with curry (but not spicy hot! I promise!) and almost creamy with coconut (but not coconut-y). When made with vegetable stock, not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real".

~recipe updated & republished for a little weekend cooking inspiration~
~more recently updated recipes~

WAY BACK IN 2005 Mmm, mmmm, good. This is the second week cooking for a neighbor sick with cancer and his wife: comfort food for him, a reprieve for her. Last week the objective was lots of calories. As happens in these situations, however, this is a new week and the new alternative medicine doctor has prescribed what I think would be called a macrobiotic diet. No meat, no fish, no dairy. No refined flour or sugar. So vegetables and fruits and grains are the order of the day – yet he still needs dense calories because his appetite is diminished. It's a challenge, cooking with so many restrictions, but fascinating too.

UPDATE My neighbor lost his battle with cancer in 2006 and just this week, his widow passed away too. They were good people: he was a brother and she was a nun when they met, fell in love, married and grew old together. Warm summer evenings, she would take his arm and slowly they'd stroll around their small house, taking stock of the flowers, then sit on a hanging swing, just quietly visiting, just enjoying one another's company. Mutual friends and I laugh about their reunion in heaven, it's a nice thought, we hope, we believe, it's true. It's a small thing perhaps, but I made this soup again in their honor and served it to much acclaim for my book club. I said it in 2005 and I'll repeat it now. Mmm, mmmmm, good. Very very good.

Over the years, I've collected several butternut squash soups, all slightly different, all wonderful. Here's how they vary. At least one (and perhaps more than one?!) belongs on your fall menu!

2005 Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Pear & Coconut – Recipe below, uses pear for fruitiness and coconut milk for creaminess. Vegan.
2006 Butternut Squash Soup with Cider Cream – Uses apple and apple cider for fruitiness. Vegetarian.
2007 Simple Butternut Squash Soup – Quick to make, the simplest soup, really just squash and broth. Vegan.
2010 Butternut Squash Soup that Actually Tastes Like Butternut Squash – More involved but extracts the most squash flavor. Vegetarian.
2011 Butternut Squash Soup with Mango & Toasted Coconut – A good season-transition soup since it's good both hot and cold. Vegan.

"Turned out yummy ..." ~ dvinokur

Creamy Pumpkin Steel-Cut Oats ♥

Creamy Pumpkin Steel-Cut Oats, another healthy pumpkin recipe ♥ AVeggieVenture.com. WW3.
graphic button small size size 10 The season's first pumpkin recipe! Let's start the day off right with healthy pumpkin oatmeal, okay? Here, a blend of steel-cut and old-fashioned oats are cooked with pumpkin and banana, an all-natural sweetener. Make a big batch on the weekend, then just rewarm for fast, healthy breakfasts during the week. graphic button small size size 10

Seasonal eating is a mindset. Take pumpkin, take peaches. Sure, I "can" make something with pumpkin in the summer but, really, it doesn't call to me, not when the peaches are drippy-ripe. But then again, sure, I "could" freeze summer's best peaches for the winter but, really, well, I just don't. As a seasonal eater, I'm quite content that pumpkin is a fall thing and peaches are a summer thing. (Hmm, am I allowed one exception? That would be my forever-favorite recipe for Autumn Pumpkin Bread.)

This year, I'm giving extra attention to a handful of extra-favorite recipes that, with seasonal adjustments, can become year-round recipes. Almost-Chewy Creamy Oatmeal is one of them. It's a blend of steel-cut and old-fashioned oats cooked on the stovetop with milk and water. For almost two years now, it's been a breakfast staple, easy to make ahead, inexpensive to make, healthy to eat. Honestly? We love it.

But variety is good, yes?! This pumpkin version for fall is just as good, just as inexpensive but still helps mark the change of seasons, one more reason to work pumpkin onto the menu for these few weeks of pumpkin time. Thanks to the banana, it's slightly sweeter than the original oatmeal but in turn, it has fewer calories because it's bulked up with virtually calorie-free pumpkin.

So here you go, pumpkin lovers, an easy breakfast!

Fresh-Tomato Chili ♥ Recipe

Fresh-Tomato Chili, ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, made and topped with fresh tomatoes. Low Carb. WW5.
Today's recipe: A meaty chili made with fresh tomatoes instead of canned tomatoes, a great way to use up a surplus of garden tomatoes, especially late in the season when it's cooled down a bit too. Most of all, fresh tomatoes served on top of chili are wonderful!

At the farmers market on Saturday, the woman selling tomatoes reported that for years, she fought off Vicious Tomato Fiends aka Box Turtles. Even one turtle, she said, can ravage a good garden because it will reach up, take one bite, then move onto the next tomato and take another bite! Don't turtles know about the Clean Plate Club?! Or food waste?

Anyway our garden must be turtle-free because it's still producing Roma tomatoes like crazy. Last week we picked a huge basketful and I wanted to use a bunch, asap. Here's what I learned:

Yes, fresh tomatoes make a great chili – no better than canned tomatoes but still, a great chili. If you have lots of tomatoes to use up, yeah, for sure, make chili. But chili made with fresh tomatoes isn't much different than chili made with canned tomatoes.
A great chili topped with really good fresh garden tomatoes? Now that's special! We loved how the deep/dark/spicy/spiced chili contrasted with the cool/wet/fresh tomatoes. Gorgeous, will totally do this again!

Oh and before I forget. About that meat? A Note to Vegetarians.

Apple Cider Vinaigrette ♥ Recipe

Apple Cider Vinaigrette ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, a no-fat salad dressing, full of fall flavor, lovely with salad greens and fruit. Low Carb. WW0.
graphic button small size size 10 Today's salad dressing recipe: A no-fat vinaigrette made with apple cider, cider vinegar, agave (or honey) and spiked with cinnamon. Weight Watchers zero – yeah, that's zero, nada, no – points, really! Low carb. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real". graphic button small size size 10

~recipe republished for a little weekend cooking inspiration~
~more recently updated recipes~

WAY BACK IN 2008 When it comes to food, we're all creatures of habit in our own ways. My way, these days, is to experiment with one new salad dressing recipe after another – this after years of making the same salad dressing again and again and again. Granted, it's a concept recipe, so no night's salad was ever the same as the last. Still.

This latest salad dressing is so perfect for fall, just as autumn's apples and apple cider are beginning to reach the markets. (Peaches? So last summer!) It couldn't be simpler to make! Plus, if you're looking for a guilt-free dressing, this is it. There's no oil (although for anyone who likes, it's quite lovely whisked with a little good olive oil, too) and it's sweetened with agave, the plant-based low-glycemic sweetener especially appreciated by vegans (who don't eat honey), carb watchers and diabetics.

UPDATE Call me smitten with this dressing! Last year, I kept a jar of Apple Cider Vinaigrette in the fridge all winter long! I also took to whisking in a tablespoon of good olive oil into three or four tablespoons Apple Cider Vinaigrette. It practically pops, like fall acorns falling on pavement!

Sheetpan Supper: Roasted Salmon with Garden Hash & Creamy Avocado Sauce ♥

Roasted Salmon with Garden Hash & Creamy Avocado Sauce cooked on a sheet pan, a Quick Supper recipe ♥ AVeggieVenture.com. Low Carb. High Protein. WW7.
Fresh salmon and a vegetable hash with summer squash, bell pepper and corn roasted together in a sheet pan, served with an avocado-buttermilk sauce that reminds me of guacamole. Low Carb. High Protein. Summer gorgeous.

THIS TIME OF YEAR, OH! THIS TIME OF YEAR August and September, they're my favorites months to cook. The fullness of late-summer and early fall make each day's stove-side dance an unrestrained rhythm of reaching for vegetables plucked from the garden earlier in the day, adding some onion, garlic maybe, a few seasonings. Mostly, the vegetables tell their own stories without the rigidity of a recipe. But I take notes, listening to their requests, learning what this zucchini likes, what that corn does not. And when the rhythm plus the words make a dish that sings, my notes later arrange themselves into lists of simple ingredients and hints to guide the hands of other cooks in other kitchens, a chorus of sorts. Yeah, pure poetry. Not my words, but the dance itself. Do August and September make you dance? It's a happy thought, all of us dancing in our respective kitchens, listening to the songs of vegetables.

QUICK SUPPERS So y'know, what I call "Quick Suppers" are much-visited favorite recipes at KitchenParade.com. How I never thought to deliver the same to A Veggie Venture, I'm not sure! But look for more recipes like today's, still vegetable centric but more attuned to an evening meal.

Just so you know, my definition of a "Quick Supper" doesn't just watch the clock. Instead, Quick Supper recipes go easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Every recipe fits at least three of those four goals and the best recipes match up with all four. Since A Veggie Venture is the "blog about vegetables" but not vegetarian, please know, some of these recipes will include protein from meat and fish. But not to worry, the already-long list of Vegetarian Suppers will continue to grow as well. Want to know more? Note to Vegetarians

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon Vinaigrette ♥

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon Vinaigrette ♥ AVeggieVenture.com. Low Carb. WW2. Vegan. Easy!
How to roast a whole head of cauliflower in the oven. Yes, I really did say a "whole head" of cauliflower! It comes out all brown and nutty and dramatic looking, easy enough for a weeknight but impressive enough for your mother-in-law. And Weight Watchers? All this for just one or two Weight Watchers points! Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real".

~recipe republished 2015 for a little weekend inspiration~
~more recently updated recipes~

So isn't it gorgeous?! There's just something so spectacular about cooking a whole head of cauliflower. I am my mother's daughter after all, she loved to cook a head of cauliflower and top it with cheese sauce. (Who remembers Whole Cauliflower with Homemade Cheese Sauce?!)

But this is even more dramatic looking, thanks to how the florets get all toasty brown in the oven. It's like a cross between the comfort food of Mom's cauliflower and ease of Roasted Cauliflower, which was the very first – first! – recipe published on Day One of A Veggie Venture back Before the Internet in 2005.